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How to Craft a Salary Negotiation Story

salary negotiationNever bargain or job hunt from a position of weakness. Soar like an eagle, even when you are feeling like a wounded pigeon. –George C. Fraser, Chairman and CEO, FraserNet Inc.

Every job seeker should learn how to craft a salary negotiation story long before there is a job offer. It allows them to weigh their options before saying “Yes!”

This salary negotiation article, while not written along gender lines, was prompted by the recent comment by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, who said that women should not ask for a raise, but have faith that the system will reward them well. (He has since issued a retraction).

“Very Good News!” stated the Subject line in an email from a client. It was an invitation to be formally presented with a job offer. He and I had had a salary negotiation discussion which ended on the assumption that he was not going to accept the offer immediately.

He called after the meeting to say, “I gladly accepted the offer on the spot.” When I asked why, he said it was the salary he was expecting, so he just “…took it”. Clearly, he was thrilled, and I didn’t blame him, but waiting another day or so to think of other non-monetary benefits, would not have hurt his chances.

Salary negotiation conversations are not easy, especially if a candidate is afraid he or she might lose out on an opportunity if they mention a figure – high or low. But, the candidate who begins to craft their negotiation story long before an offer is presented is the one who will appear at the negotiation table well-prepared and confident. At minimum they would’ve asked themselves:

  • What’s the minimum will I accept?
  • What is the going rate for people in my field and at my level?
  • What other non-monetary benefits are being offered?

In addition, they will have considered the following five points:

  • Conduct research to find out what the average salary and benefit packages are in other companies for people in their industry.
  • Review labour market information and salary websites to find salary information on many professions. Websites such as: www.salary.com, salary.monster.ca, www.payscale.com, http://monsterca.salary.com/CanadaSalaryWizard/ & www.salaryexpert.com are good places to start. Keep in mind that the figures quoted on these sites are not universally applicable. However, having this information puts the candidate in a better position to negotiate.
  • Take time to review the offer. Most times, employers expect the candidate would want some time to consider the offer before giving them an answer. No need to get nervous and think the offer is going to be withdrawn if it’s not accepted immediately.
  • Negotiate for more than money. The salary figure is not everything. Think of non-monetary benefits and perks that could come with the position: an extra week’s vacation, reimbursement for professional development courses, extra health and wellness coverage, etc.
  • Firm with their expectations, but are ready to compromise if the offer appears reasonable and if there is a sense they are doing their best.

If a candidate has the confidence to tell a compelling negotiation story, it’s an indication they could be great negotiators on behalf of the company, and if given the opportunity.

Job seeker, it is up to you to convince the employer of the value you will bring to the organization. That makes it easier for them to accept your salary negotiation story.

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Parts of this blog post have been excerpted from my new book Tell Stories, Get Hired to be available soon.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

6 Reasons to Send a Cover Letter With Your Resume

Cover letter conceptThe importance of cover letters sometimes engenders lively debates among hiring managers, job seekers, and career professionals, and all sides have compelling arguments. Some say recruiters do not have the time to read cover letters, especially when they are under pressure to find the right candidate. Others say that fifty percent of recruiters do not read them. If that’s the case, what happens to the other fifty percent who do spend the time to read these them?

Having participated in and researched the various arguments, here are six reasons a job seeker might want to include a cover letter with his or her resume:

Fifty percent of recruiters read cover letters: While it is commonly argued that fifty percent of recruiters do not read cover letters, the other fifty percent does. Therefore, if there is a fifty-fifty chance that a cover letter is going to be read by a recruiter, why not include one with your resume?

Most employers expect a cover letter with the resume. A 2012 survey conducted by Officeteam revealed that 91% of executives said cover letters were valuable when evaluating job candidates.

The resume is only half-dressed without the cover letter. Sometimes the resume is not enough to convey the job seeker’s qualifications and interest in the role, and gives the impression that something is missing. Adding a cover letter completes the picture. It also is an opportunity to answer potential questions before they are asked. For example, “Why are their gaps in your employment?”

The cover letter demonstrates your contribution. Adam Bryant aka @NYTCorneroffice, contributor at the New York Times, was asked on LinkedIn’s How to Hire series, if a cover letter really helps in the decision to hire. He said,  “The magic word for a cover letter is contribution. You want to show that you are ready to make a contribution, rather than just hoping for a pay cheque; that you have done your homework, you are excited about the vision, and that you understand what the company does.

The cover letter is your elevator pitch for your resume. In an interview with Careerbuilder, Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith, a Massachusetts-based etiquette consulting firm, said, “The cover letter is the elevator pitch for your resume. It’s your best bet for grabbing the recruiter’s interest so that the recruiter wants to review your resume.” Learn how to polish up your cover letter much like you do with your elevator pitch.

The cover letter is an opportunity to tell your unique story and make a good first impression.  A cover letter should create a strong first impression and tells the employer why you are the best person for the role. “Submitting a resume without a cover letter is like not shaking hands when meeting someone for the first time,” says Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Those who aren’t including cover letters with their resumes are missing an opportunity to make a good first impression and set themselves apart from other job applicants.”

How about you? Which side of the cover letter debate are you on?  Should you or should you not send a cover letter with your resume? Share your comments below.

The cover letter demonstrates your contribution. Adam Bryant aka @NYTCorneroffice, contributor at the New York Times, was asked on LinkedIn’s How to Hire series,

Are Thank You Letters Really Annoying?

Thank You Letter

Are thank you letters really annoying? It didn’t occur to me that they could be until very recently. A client mentioned a few days ago that a corporate recruiter with a financial institution told her that some people find thank you letters annoying. Suddenly, I was reminded that some recruiters detest cover letters and will not read them. But thank you letters?

One common school of thought has been to send a thank you letter very soon after an interview. Many recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring managers see a thank you letter as a welcome change since most job seekers do not usually send one. In fact, most have said that sometimes such a letter, card or note, ends up being the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.

But, that corporate recruiter could be on to something. What if some recruiters interpret the act of sending thank you letters as schmoozing? What if they do not have the time to read yet another piece of correspondence? What if such a letter won’t impact their decision? Those may be plausible, but here are some other reasons for sending a thank you letter:

  • It demonstrates common courtesy and appreciation, even if the interview didn’t go well.
  • It leaves a positive impression, and keeps the candidate on the interviewer’s radar.
  • It reiterates interest in the position (if that’s the case), and enables the candidate to recap elements of the interview that might not have been addressed effectively.
  • It could serve as a request to withdraw from further consideration if the candidate discovers that the company would not be a good fit. (That happens too!)
  • It’s an opportunity to stay engaged and build or strengthen relationships.
  • It gives the candidate a chance to stand out from their competitor. Very few people send thank you letters.

While some recruiters might not like to receive thank you letters, there are enough reasons to send one even if it’s not read.  As a matter of fact, some suggest a handwritten letter sent by snail mail is a better idea. A letter or card with someone’s name on it is difficult to be ignored.

Communications Specialist, Alexandra Franzen, (@alex_franzen) says she “wants to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave and every ‘thank you’ note is scribbled by hand.” Interesting!

What are your thoughts on thank you letters? Should they be sent? Share your comments below so others will benefit.

 

How a Patchwork Quilt Résumé Could Damage Your Brand

Wikipedia’s Definition of a patchwork quilt: a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design.

By my own definition, a patchwork quilt résumé is one that is made up of phrases and sentences copied from other people’s career documents (résumé, cover letter, bio, or LinkedIn Profile), and presented as one’s own.

Recently, there was an intense discussion on the forum of one of my professional associations about someone who had copied blocks of a sample résumé to create her own then contacted one member to spruce it up for her. While scrutinizing the document, the member realized the contents didn’t gel, so she did a Google search. It turned out the sample résumé was crafted by another member of this same association and posted in an article on AOL.

I have had my share of people sending me résumés made up of bits and pieces of other people’s résumés, and sometimes cover letters. In one case, it was the summary from one of my own creations. As I started reading the résumé, I thought the wording sounded familiar. On checking, I realized it was one I had written for another client. This new client told me someone had helped him out for free but he wasn’t having much success with it.

When information is copied from someone else’s résumé, it is very easy to spot the patchwork quilt design. The information is incoherent; statements are generic and some phrases just do not match the person’s experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringements, and ethics. Moreover, if such a résumé lands on the desk of a discerning hiring manager, such a candidate’s credibility will come into question, and he or she will most likely not be called for an interview.

Here are the facts:

  • Your résumé is a branding tool that tells YOUR story, not someone else’s, and shows the face YOU want employers to see.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. You must differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a résumé that captures your unique talents, accomplishments and experience; not one that looks like a patchwork quilt, or one that gives the impression you have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scouring the Internet for sample résumés to build your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself “What have I done with the job they asked me to do? How is the company better off since I joined?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what’ factor to each. For example, if one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened?”
  • Review your last two performance appraisals and look for the nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a résumé that tells YOUR story. Make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the employer’s question “Why should we hire you?” If you are unable to create your own résumé, find someone whom you trust; has credentials and know what they are doing.

Don’t damage your brand with a patchwork quilt résumé. Learn to tell your own story and get hired!

When a Résumé Looks too Good to be True…

…It probably is! Some time ago I wrote an article titled “Lying on Resumes Alarmingly Common”, where I referenced a newspaper article with the heading “Official Résumé Wrong”! Fast forward to 2011, and it appears the topic of ‘lying on résumés’ has reared it’s head again. As a matter of fact, one month ago, I was reviewing the résumé of a young man and when I questioned him about his most recent experience, he admitted he had fabricated it because “others were doing it.” As a career coach and professional résumé writer, I owe it to my clients and myself to make sure that the information is correct.

Officeteam recently conducted a survey and it reveals, once again, that most job seekers stretch the truth on their résumés, particularly when it comes to their job duties and education. The job market may be tough right now, but job seekers should refrain from embellishing their résumés as they will be found out, sooner or later.

Here are some tips that Officeteam has offered to employers on how they can verify information on résumés. Job seekers should take note:

1. Watch for ambiguity. When reviewing resumes, question vague descriptions of skills (e.g., “familiar with,” “involved in”) which may be signs that a professional is trying to hide a lack of relevant work experience.
2. Ask once, ask twice. Pose interview questions that relate to specific skills needed. For example, if a candidate must know a particular software program, ask how he or she has used the technology in previous roles. If an applicant’s response is ambiguous, don’t be afraid to rephrase the question.
3. Get the facts. Ask references to confirm basic information such as the candidate’s employment history, job titles, responsibilities and salary. If they’re willing to talk further, delve into their thoughts on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal skills, and ability to work on a team.
4. Branch out. Inquire if references know of others you can speak to about promising candidates. Also, tap your own network to find mutual acquaintances who might be able to shed light on the prospective hire’s background and character.
6.  Put them to the test. To get a true sense of a candidate’s abilities, consider hiring the person on a temporary basis before extending a full-time offer. This allows both parties to assess whether the position is a fit.

How about you? Do you embellish, or have you lied on your résumé? Do you know anyone who does? Add your voice here!

Source: Officeteam

Related post: Lying on Résumés Alarmingly Common

How to Address Gaps in Your Employment

Several of my clients are professional immigrants, aka Internationally Educated Professionals. While they are trying to navigate and understand the job search maze, they are either not working or they are working in survival jobs. Invariably, these jobs are not related to their professions, and some prefer not to mention such jobs on their resumes. Those who haven’t yet found a job face the same challenge – how to account for their time away from the job market.

In a recent survey, a group of Canadian HR professionals and hiring managers were asked “How should candidates address gaps in their employment history?” Nearly thirty-six percent (35.9%) said they should include a statement in the ‘work experience’ section and twenty-three percent (23.4%) indicated that they should give an explanation in a cover letter. Sixteen percent (15.6%) said that candidates should explain (in a chronological resume) where the gap occurred, or they should fill the gap with professional development. From this statistic, it is safe to conclude that 75% of respondents want you to account for the gap.

While keeping the hiring managers’ preferences in mind, here are some additional ways to compensate for, or explain gaps in your employment:

  1. Prepare to tell stories about what you have learned in the survival job without focusing on the title
  2. Register with employment agencies to get some short-term assignments, or look for freelance projects
  3. Use the functional resume format to emphasize notable skills and accomplishments gained from a number of jobs
  4. Arrange practice interview sessions with a family member or friend and make sure you are prepared to answer the ‘gap’ question
  5. Reflect on some activities you have been involved in and see if you can link those activities to the company’s business strategy
  6. Remind yourself that unpaid work is ‘experience’
  7. Attend industry-related seminars, engage in professional development activities or gain an additional certification

Employers understand that there are various reasons why someone may have gaps in his or her employment history. Just be honest about it, and always steer the conversation back to the value benefits they would derive from having you on board.

 

 

Embarrassing Moments at Work: Offer Letter Sent to the Wrong Candidate

OfficeTeam recently conducted a survey asking executives to recount their most embarrassing moments. One fell asleep while interviewing a candidate, another sent the offer letter to the wrong candidate, and yet another answered the phone using the wrong company name. One even went to work with two different shoes on. I can relate to that as it happened to me years ago one dark winter morning.

These moments can happen to just about anyone, and while the executive may be forgiven, as a candidate vying for that coveted position, you might not be so fortunate. That embarrassing mistake could cost you the job of your dreams.

Here are four tips from OfficeTeam to help you rebound from embarrassing mishaps:

1. Remain calm. It’s easy to lose your nerves after a slipup, but try to keep your composure. Take a deep breath and collect yourself.

2. Own up. Acknowledging a blunder before someone else does can alleviate any awkward tension that may arise. If appropriate, address the situation in a humorous way to make everyone feel more at ease.

3. Make amends. If your accident affected another person, immediately apologize and take steps to ensure a similar mistake does not happen again.

4. Move on. Rather than dwell on a misstep, focus on getting back on track. The faster you recover, the less memorable the incident will be.

What has been an embarrassing moment for you? Share it here.

*Post courtesy of OfficeTeam

7 Attributes of Highly Attractive Candidates

The following is a very interesting post by Head2Head Recruiting in Toronto. The link to the full article and credit is listed below.

Job applicants love to complain about recruiters. They say that their online applications end up in a cyber black hole and are never read, responded to or recorded. While that might be true in some cases, there are candidates who always get a response and this is what they do to help us out as recruiters with limited time to fill specific positions with highly qualified candidates.

1. They save us time. They write their applications to be scanned. Qualifications and experiences are listed up front using the language used in the original posting.

2. They solve our problems. Recruiters, like employers, aren’t interested in what a job can do for you. We’re interested in what you can do for the company. Good candidates know what the pitfalls are and have thought about how to bridge them.

4. They are excellent at doing researchers. They are up-to-date on major events, performance issues and current trends in their industry.

5. They know how to leverage social media. All of their contacts know they are looking for work, what they want to do and how they intend to get it.

6. They’re passionate about their work. A dedication to their careers shines through difficulties. Further education, training and involvement in industry associations are listed on their CVs.

7.They give our clients a reason to feel inspired. Clients can tell when fresh blood is going to bring fresh thinking. When you’re a special candidate, it shows in your CV in your cover letter and, most importantly, in how you STATE YOUR GOALS. Ambition, combined with practical steps toward achievement, are the most attractive qualities in any candidate anywhere.

Article originally posted by Recruiting Head2Head in Toronto. Cut and paste this link: http://ow.ly/kwK7